Mick Schumacher concedes his former team owner Gene Haas is “definitely right” in his comments that Formula 1 “just doesn’t allow” a rookie time to grow as it’s “just too expensive”.
Haas announced at the eve of the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi that they would not be continuing with Schumacher into 2023, instead signing veteran racer Nico Hulkenberg.
It was news that had been expected for some time, Haas already questioning Schumacher’s future as the 2022 season went into its mid-season summer break.
Coming back from it the pressure mounted on Schumacher as race after race he wasn’t able to add to his two top-ten results, and race after race Guenther Steiner spoke of potential replacements.
But perhaps the final note was team owner Haas’ comments about the 23-year-old just days after he aquaplaned into the barriers at the end of FP1 at the Japanese Grand Prix.
It was a crash that left him once again with a damaged chassis, his third of the season.
“In this sport, being kind of a rookie driver, the sport just doesn’t allow it – it’s just too expensive,” Haas said.
“I think Mick has got a lot of potential, but you know he costs a fortune and he’s wrecked a lot of cars that have cost us a lot of money that we just don’t have.”
Schumacher agrees, Formula 1 doesn’t give young drivers enough time to find their feet.
“He’s definitely right about that,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “Formula 1 is a sport where you have to push yourself to the limit. In order to find the limit, you sometimes have to go beyond it.
“There are therefore many people in the scene who say that it takes a young driver at least three years to fit in. I agree.
“Formula 1 is of a completely different calibre than any other racing category that I have driven before. I’ve felt more comfortable every time I’ve gotten into the car. You could also see that in my positive trend.”
Pressed as to whether the sport ‘lack patience’ with young drivers, he replied: “Possibly yes. Of course, I don’t know how other young drivers were treated and I can only speak from my own experience. I needed time.”
Accept the decision and move onto the next
But unfortunately for Schumacher, Haas ran out of the time with him.
The team confirmed in the build-up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that it would be his last race with the American team, Steiner and Haas have opted to sign Hulkenberg instead.
Asked if the pressure had told on him given that the team made it very clear he wasn’t their number pick for 2023, he said: “Actually hardly.
“I could only do my best and race my races. The team knew what I could do.”
And what of Haas’ call for him to score more points, the American saying that would at least balance the books when it came to his crashes?
“That didn’t increase the pressure,” Schumacher said. “Points were a goal for all of us.
“We had enough opportunities to deliver them, but unfortunately there were also enough reasons why it didn’t fit too often. We could have scored a lot more points if one or the other situation had turned out differently.”
“It’s disappointing in a way because I think I’ve done a good job this year,” he added. “The team made a different decision and I have to accept that. Now I have to focus on the future.”
What’s next for Mick Schumacher?
Without a race seat for the 2023 season, Schumacher has been linked to a third driver role with the Mercedes team.
Toto Wolff has talked up the youngster, saying he would be a good fit, while adding that the Schumacher family “belongs to Mercedes”.
But for Schumacher, “Plan A was always to stay in Formula 1.
“I definitely want to stay in Formula 1 and am now looking at the options that are available. And hopefully I’ll pick the right one.
“I would love to prove everyone who doesn’t believe in me wrong. I know what I can do, I’ve proven it in the junior categories and I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do the same in Formula 1.”